Monday, February 6, 2012

Prospect Nation 2012: #16 2B Cesar Hernandez

Cesar Hernandez is a Venezuelan born infielder that was signed as an amateur free agent by the Phillies at the age of 16. Since then, Hernandez has proven to be sharp on defense with some outstanding speed on the bases and a productive bat. As the 5-foot-10-inch 160-pounder has shown in recent years, he's deserving of considerable recognition as a rising infielder in the Phillies' system.

Hernandez made his professional debut with the Venezuelan Summer League at the age of 17. In two seasons there, he tallied a .296 batting average with 3 HR and 45 RBI in 114 games.

The current Phillies 40-man roster member played with the Gulf Coast League Phillies in 2009, where he batted .267 with 5 doubles and a triple in 41 games.

In 2010, as a member of the NY-Penn League's (short-season Class A) Williamsport Crosscutters, Hernandez was voted as the Most Valuable Player of the club by his teammates. He proved clutch with the 'Cutters, posting a .400 average (16-for-40) with runners in scoring position and two outs. Overall that season, Hernandez sported an impressive .325/.390/.392 line with 13 doubles and 2 triples in 65 games and was 2nd in the league in stolen bases with 32.

His remarkable season in Williamsport led to a complete skip of full season Class A Lakewood. Hernandez played the entire 2011 season with the Class A Advanced Clearwater Threshers, where his offensive production took a dip (.268/.303./.333 line). With just 15 extra-base hits against 98 singles last year, a power boost will be something to look for from Hernandez as he climbs upwards in the developmental ranks.

Also taking a noticeable drop was the damage Hernandez did on the base paths. After a success rate of 84% in 2010, the youngster was only successful in 70% of his stolen base attempts with Clearwater the following year. Moving up two levels provides an acceptable reason for the decreased output and, as such, the Phillies were still very pleased with the progress Hernandez made against the difficult Florida State League competition.

The 21-year-old played in the Venezuelan Winter League this off-season. As a member of the Bravos de Margarita, the switch-hitting Hernandez posted a weak .259/.314/.277 line in 34 games.

Defensively, Hernandez's arm is clearly above average and his range is very good. He has played 45 games at shortstop in his pro career, but none since advancing above the VSL.

Hernandez's coaches and organizational instructors praise his many talents (defensive instincts, swing, speed) and are confident that Hernandez has what it will take to compete at the highest levels of professional baseball.

Expect Hernandez to get a shot at playing with the Double-A Reading Phillies in 2012. Whether or not he begins the season there could depend on where the organization places the older Harold Garcia to open the year. While Hernandez may project to compete at the big league level, the capacity in which he could contribute in the Majors will surely depend on the progress he makes in the meantime.

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Image- Joe Wombough

2012 Prospect countdown index can be found HERE.

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